This is a question that is on our minds especially as the new year gets under way. Take heart – it can be easier than you think to focus on better choices for everyone in the household. How? By choosing heart smart meals and snacks. Foods from all your favorite food groups can fit!
Here is some delicious inspiration for your next get together, whether it’s watching the Big Game, hanging out with friends, or simply looking for a tasty idea after work or school that comes together quickly and provides balance your body needs each week. Pick at least two food groups per snack to help keep things interesting and nutritious.
Fruits and vegetables:
These two food groups are a bright, sunny, seasonalway to keep our menus fun. Each color of the rainbow provides a unique mix of nutrients, so simply keep color in mind when choosing from these groups each week. Pay special attention to dark green, red, and orangechoices for the boost of nutrition they offer. The “only” prep here is to make sure you have them in the house so they are easy to wash and eat.
Whole grains are at the top of the list in this food group, and choices with fiber are, too. Look for options with at least two grams of fiber per serving. Read labels, as nutrition and calories can vary widely even if options look similar. Take a moment to compare your favorites to see what you are really getting. Tortillas are great for wraps or making your own (lower fat/calorie) “chips”. For parties, use small cookie cutters in seasonal shapes to make your chips festive. Don’t miss our farmer story and savory popcorn recipe this month to learn more about this favorite whole grain.
Choosing reduced or low-fat options can help keep calories and fat in check. No cooking needed here, either. Did you know milk, cheese, and yogurt have protein? Yep, that and more. Dairy also plays a role in many recipes, from casseroles to soup, and it pairs well with all the other food groups.
There are so many flavorful options in the protein group that are great for meals and snacks. Hard boiled eggs, beans, lean meat, poultry, fish. There are precooked versions and choices you can prep easily for a variety of flavors no matter what your day brings.
Look for recipes that use some similar ingredients to help use all of what you buy. This keeps budget and food waste in check while enjoying the choices you make.
Read labels and learn what you can make ahead, freeze, and easily enjoy later on busy days.
Make sure you have the equipment you need to make your choices easy to bring. A thermal lunch bag, ice pack and reusable containers help extend the choices you can have on the go.
Try leftover salad as part of a sandwich or wrap, and remember fun things to eat can be nutritious, too. The more you know, the more fun you can have while making better choices.
Snackable recipes to try for entertaining or everyday: